MLK- Make the ghetto go away, and work together

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I will post a few words from a speech he gave while visiting the Shaw neighborhood back in 1967.

Of course, we all recognize that if we are ultimately to improve psychological and physical conditions for minorities there must be total elimination of ghettoes and the establishment of a truly integrated society. In the meantime, however, all those working for economic and social justice are forced to address themselves to interim programs which, while not totally changing the situation, will nevertheless bring about improvement in the lives of those forced to live in ghettoes. And so, whiel [sic] many of those steps may lead to limited integration, those which do not must clearly be seen as interim steps until the objective situation makes a more fundamental approach.

and later

… Labor, Housing and the Office of Economic Opportunity, ought to work with the people of Shaw in developing, coordinating and concentrating their various programs upon social and economic problems of this area.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a March 13, 1967 rally for Shaw

Poster-For-MLK-Parade

I hope that reading this one can see the importance of integration. Segregating off into little ethnic and racial neighborhoods separate from other residents is not good for us as a whole. We need to unite and work together for the good.

Crowding- and good intentions gone lost- Washington Sanitary Impr. Co.

I am looking at what I’ve written before on the InShaw blog about the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) before going deep on the topic and writing something new. Call it procrastination.

This piece was about the intentions of the WSIC. They saw it as a way to battle overcrowding and substandard housing by making that housing go away and replacing it with better housing. What it did was expel Black residents, who were not going to live in the new housing. History doesn’t repeat but it sure does rhyme. The same could be said of HOPE and other government (WSIC was private) housing programs. Anyway…..


I forget which census year it was but one year there were 11 people living in the house I currently occupy. As far as I know, the house has always been a two bedroom and I believe the cellar is a late 20th century addition. My house is about 1,000 sq ft.
I have read that overcrowding could be blamed on segregation. Segregation was probably one of several causes, if there are so many structures in the city and many of those structures are off limits due to covenants and other restrictions, then that limits housing choices. I get a sense that economics had something to do with it as well, but that is just a guess.
Anywho, a turn of the century description of crowded rental housing comes from a report from Clare de Graffenried:

I have no doubt that lodgers are harbored in these alleys whose presence, for many reasons not creditable to the occupants, is always concealed. The confessed facts are startling enough. We have here accounts of 7 persons living in two rooms– the mother and her sons, 21, 17 and 7 years of age, occupying one bedchamber. Again, 9 individuals live in two romse[sic]; 11 people in four rooms. Five, almost all adults, sleep in one room– the mother 43, a son 21, and daughters 19, 17, and 14; and 4 persons use another room– a mother 45, and aunt 70, and a son 22, and a baby 9 months old.
–Page 18 of Kober, George “The History and Development of the Housing Movement in the City of Washington, DC” Washington, DC 1907.

Doing a Google search for Miss de Graffenried, brought up Between Justice and Beauty by Howard Gillette, Jr., which on page 113 where he notes that she goes for the dramatic story over statistics. Later Gillette writes on page regarding the predecessor of the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company, which built the houses on Bates Street:

By 1904 the company housed 140 families, 30 of whom were black. Since the overwhelming majority of alley dwellers were black, the company clearly did not direct its attention to those in greatest need.– page 115

In Kober in 1909 writes about their housing efforts:

It should be stated, that while the original intention was to provide homes for alley residents and thereby remove the slums, it was considered best to begin this movement by providing improved dwellings for the better class of wage earners, in the belief that houses vacated by them would be rented by the next grade, and so on until the bottom of the ladder was reached. –page 31

1957 Church Survey: Tenth Street Baptist Church

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle. One of the churches was Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

photo of property

There has been a slight change in address for the Tenth Street Baptist Church. Currently it is at 1000 R St NW, but in 1957 when they filled out the 1957 church survey it was 1646 10th St NW.

According to the survey this African American church had been on its current site since 1888. Yet the structure was newish in 1957, having been built around the 1930s. Looking at the Google Streetview of the present day building, there may have been some updates in the past 90 some years.

Looking at the 1957 make up of 10th St Baptist, it was a predominately white collar Black church, with 67% in the white collar profession. The next largest group was 15% classified as professionals. It was also a big church claiming about 5000 members, with less than half bothering showing up on any given Sunday. Considering that 70% lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area (as shown in the map, featured image above), they should have not have had a problem getting there.

CS 18 Tenth Street Baptist by Mm Inshaw

 

1957 Church Survey: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

I’ve been holding off on this one because it was my church. It was the church of the Glorius family and several other Truxton Circle families of many years past.

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle. One of the churches was Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

When I was a member Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was a racially mixed church and in 1957 it was mixed, 25% Black and 75% White.

This was not without some complications.

CS 28 Immaculate Conception by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Image not found
Sq. 423 circa 1919, showing the lots Immaculate Conception owns.

There was more of Immaculate in 1957 than there is now. There used to be more lots, including land where the 1300 Apartments (formerly the Immaculate Conception Apartments) parking lot sits. They also had a parking lot across the street. They had parking for 100 cars. It was much bigger in the day.

Currently there are 4 weekend masses. In 1957 they stated they had 1,600 for Sunday attendance for a sanctuary that seats 900 people.

They had 3 priests in 1957. Now there is sort of 2, after having just one for the longest time. Monsignor J. Joshua Mundell was the priest in charge during the 1968 riots. Speaking of the priests, here is a list of priests.

The church had a school serving children in the neighborhood. It was sometime in the years Monsignor Watkins when the school was closed and was later converted into a charter school.

There is no professional break down of the parishioners. That would have been nice if they had that info.

1957 Church Survey: Galbraith AME Church

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the Union Station area. One of the churches was Galbraith AME Church, now Galbraith AME Zion Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

CS 21 Galbraith AME by Mm Inshaw

 The church sits at 1114 6th St NW. Is it in Shaw? Is it in Mt. Vernon Square? Sure, yes.

Anyway, this was a Black church with a large white collar membership who did not live in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area.

Rando Truxton & Shaw History- Alleys

I’m going to make this a quick one. Here is part of a pathfinder survey from 1936 of alleys in DC. I picked out some Shaw related alleys. It says were the alleys are, as in which city square they are located, how many alley dwellings there were and how many of those were occupied by people. The point was to kick people out of their alley homes.

DC Alleys ShawAlleys1936 by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Source: National Archives and Records Admin. Washington, DC. Record Group 302, entry 3, maybe file Pathfinder Survey (1936).

1957 Church Survey: Israel Metropolitan CME Church

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area around Union Station. Israel Metropolitan Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church was one of the churches in this area. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

Israel Metropolitan CME was where the Mt. Lebanon Church sits today at 1219 New Jersey Ave NW. The survey doesn’t tell us about the racial or professional make up of the 911 parishioners of the church. Just the basics. From the name CME, it was and is a Black church. The current Israel Metropolitan CME church sits in Petworth.

CS 23 Isreal Metropolitan CME by Mm Inshaw

 

1957 Church Survey: Mt. Vernon Place Methodist- Rando Church Near Shaw

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle.  To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

photo of property

The church we have here is Mt. Vernon Square Methodist located at 900 Massachusetts Ave NW. Like it’s building it was a big white church. It boasted of having 4,000 members in 1957 and they were white. Looking at their website, it looks like they are still majority white.

Looking at the 1957 demographics this was a middle to upper middle class church. Most of the people were white collar workers (71%), and most lived outside of the urban renewal area in other parts of Washington, DC (58%). There was also a chunk of membership who lived in the ‘burbs of MD and VA (32%). Financially, they looked pretty good with $6,000 in expenses and a $233,000 budget ($2.7 million in 2021 dollars).

CS-26-Mt Vernon Place Metho… by Mm Inshaw

 

Lessons Learned from Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle- Don’t leave property to a bunch of people

Okay, I have a pet peeve and I want to get it off my chest. So I have been documenting the property transactions of African American home owners from the 1920 census who lived in this Washington, DC neighborhood of Truxton Circle. Do I understand the records I’m looking at? Not 100% but I can tell there is some problem when the home owner I am tracking leaves their home to more than one person.

I have a sense of what the owner might have been thinking if they left a will. Maybe they wanted to treat all their children equally. Maybe they wanted to leave something to all the people in their lives who meant something and the only thing of great value they had was their home. That’s sweet. But the problem is all their adult children don’t want to live together in the same house they grew up in.

What I see in the land records are papers where all the heirs have to sign off to let one family member have the property. Or all the heirs, and their spouses, sell the property.

Now let me dig and find something useful from my graduate education. I learned why pre-industrial and industrial England was more prosperous than France and it was because of primogeniture. Primogeniture was when the first born (usually male heir) get the main land, properties, and business interest of the deceased. Second plus sons and daughters were lucky to get an allowance, small plots of land or what have you, but not the main prize. This meant the farm was not broken up. Whereas in France, they broke up the farms and the lands into smaller portions, which meant they were less productive.

So back to Truxton Circle. One could theoretically divide a house if it were a two unit structure. So far I have not seen that.

What I have seen with other property owners of Truxton Circle, are requests to allow wives/widows to remain in the home until their death while the named heir holds the title.

In conclusion, the inheriting parties sell the property or transfer it to one of the heirs, who later sells the property.  So one may as well direct the sale of the property and have the proceeds divvied up equally by the heirs and save everyone the headache.

Because of another TC related side project the generational wealth that TC property gives is not in the property itself. It may be more the idea of having property and being a homeowner. My parents are still alive so I’m not getting their old ramshackle house any time soon. But they provided an example of the idea of owning one’s own home.

Examples of several heirs- Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Annie Brown 69 N St NW

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Wallace J. Broadas- 1607 New Jersey Ave NW

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Malinda Powell- 71 N St NW

1957 Church Survey: Holy Redeemer Catholic Church- Close to but not in Truxton Circle/Shaw

I would pass by Holy Redeemer when riding the 96 bus. It is just across the border from the Truxton Circle/ Shaw/ Mt. Vernon Sq. on the other side of New York Ave NW.

Front of Holy Redeemer Church in Washington DCIn 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle. One of the churches was Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

According to Holy Redeemer’s own history, the church was dedicated in October 1922. It was and still is a primarily African American church.

CS 27 Holy Redeemer Catholic by Mm Inshaw

So let’s look at the survey for Holy Redeemer. The location hasn’t changed, it’s still at 206 New York Ave NW. It had three priests, a full time janitor, a full time housekeeper and a membership of 2,500 souls. A majority of the membership lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area and the rest (40%) lived in other parts of DC. Most of that 40% was living between Georgia Ave and 37th NW. Another majority in the church were white collar workers.